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Jane Lynch Makes a 'Glee'-ful Cabaret Debut: Concert Review

Jane Lynch 54 Below - P 2014
Courtesy of 54 Below

The Bottom Line

Lynch delivers a riotous and wildly eclectic evening of hilariously droll musical mayhem.

Venue

54 Below
New York (Thursday, June 19)

The Emmy-Award winning star proves an engaging performer in her singing club debut.

“This is a bit of a maiden voyage for me,” admitted Jane Lynch at the beginning of her show at 54 Below. Those were possibly the last sincere words said all night by the Emmy Award-winning star of Glee. Delivering a riotous and wildly eclectic evening of musical fun, the performer made an auspicious cabaret debut.

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No, she didn’t perform Stephen Sondheim or Cole Porter. But she did sing an Irving Berlin song, albeit the little-known and very funny “Mr. Monotony.” It was but one of the many numbers that exploited her fierce comic talents. And, as anyone who saw her turn as Miss Hannigan in the recent Broadway revival of Annie can attest, she can sing, too.

Backed by a three-piece band and frequently accompanied by guest star Kate Flannery (the alcoholic Meredith on the NBC series The Office), Lynch put her unique spin on several familiar songs. The pair dueted on “Far from the Home I Love" from Fiddler on the Roof, here delivered in propulsive percussive fashion, and the Frank and Nancy Sinatra hit “Something Stupid,” making fun of the song’s romantic context by steadfastly and hilariously avoiding eye contact throughout.

A veteran of several Christopher Guest mockumentaries, Lynch performed two numbers from his folk music satire A Mighty Wind, mining the faux sincere lyrics for all their humorous pomposity. Originally performed by the film’s “The Folksman,” they included “The Skeletons of Quinto,” complete with spoken-word passage (“El con Frito Lay”) and “Blood on the Coals,” described as “a song about a train wreck in a coal mine.”

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She displayed a jazzy side with David Frishberg’s rambunctious “Slappin’ the Cakes,” and resuscitated a true rarity in the form of “Coney Island Washboard,” originally recorded by the Mills Brothers in 1929.

The short but sweet show — it clocked in at only 50 minutes or so — reached an appropriate conclusion with “The Party’s Over.” But there were also two delicious encores: a hilariously rewritten version of “Go Ask Alice,” affectionately dedicated to the late Ann B. Davis of The Brady Bunch, and “Little Girls,” her show-stopping number from Annie. After the performance was over, the star hung out in the bar area, happily chatting with fans and posing for selfies.  It seemed like, for her, the party was just beginning. 

Set list:

If Wishes Were Rainbows
Slappin' the Cakes
Mr. Monotony
Far from the Home I Love
The Skeletons of Quinto
Blood on the Coals
Something Stupid
Coney Island Washboard
The Party's Over
_____

Go Ask Alice
Little Girls